Restaurants offer some unique challenges when it comes to marketing and advertising. Spending too much money on promotions can take away from your bottom line, and it’s a big investment to have a dedicated sales team to drive new revenue directly.
Content marketing presents a suitable alternative. It’s a relatively inexpensive strategy to pursue, it can grow your traffic exponentially over time, and it drives new visitors to your site while building your reputation. However, content marketing isn’t a magic solution, devoid of challenges for restaurants.
Key Opportunities and Benefits
Restaurants have some key opportunities with content marketing, which can make it a potentially powerful addition to your marketing lineup:
- Higher search rankings (especially local). One of the biggest advantages of content marketing is its effects on your business’s search rankings. Even if you don’t pay much attention to SEO, merely keeping a blog updated with quality content is enough to improve your website’s domain authority and increase your relevance for restaurant-related search terms. Plus, if you get good reviews on third-party directories (like Yelp and UrbanSpoon) and have ample location-specific keywords on your site, you’ll likely pop up in local search results, too.
- Market differentiation. Because of the challenges it presents, most restaurants opt out of content marketing as a potential marketing strategy. Instead, they favor advertising, coupons, and other means of generating local visibility. Opting for content marketing can help you differentiate your restaurant from those of your competitors, and win you a unique audience accordingly.
- Social visibility. Writing good content and distributing it through social media also gives you the potential to earn a large social media following, which you can then use in coordination with other established marketing and advertising strategies. For example, with more social followers, any news posts or special announcements you reveal will instantly become more effective.
- Optimizing for key dishes. Writing content also gives you the opportunity to specifically target and optimize for keyword terms related to your areas of specialty. This is a strong way to connect with the specific demographics most likely to make your restaurant successful, and target some key competitive opportunities.
- Long-term growth. One of content marketing’s biggest advantages is the fact that it pays off over time. The more you invest in your strategy, the more your reputation will grow—permanently—and as you attract a bigger audience and build a higher domain authority, every piece of content you write will become more valuable. It’s a trajectory for exponential growth, which means a sizable return on investment (ROI).
Some Challenges to Consider
However, content marketing works differently for different industries, and restaurants face unique challenges that need to be considered:
- Staffing issues. Restaurants already have problems with staffing. With so many different positions and requirements for overlapping hourly workers, scheduling and hiring are serious obstacles for most restauranteurs. To get around this, consider hiring someone specifically to write your content, even if it’s through an agency, and you’ll be faced with external hiring practices, which are largely outside your usual realm of expertise.
- Niche selection. What are you going to write about? Finding topics that suit your specific restaurant that are unique and relevant to your target audience can be hard. Think carefully about your content: what type of content would your ideal customers want to read? What information do they need that they aren’t currently getting?
- Scale and timing. Content marketing, while inexpensive, does demand a heavy investment of time. You won’t see results in the first week of your strategy, or even in the first month. It takes several months of consistent effort before you’ll start yielding a positive ROI, and not many restaurants can commit to this additional investment of time. However, thanks to the compounding returns, it’s almost always worth the investment.
The Bottom Line
There are pros and cons to content marketing for restaurants, as with any marketing strategy, but overall, it’s a valuable and cost-efficient way to build your business’s reputation. Even if you use content marketing purely for the SEO benefits, you’ll see a return on your investment within months, as long as you target the right niche keywords. It’s an approach that takes some initial effort and ongoing adaptation, but it’s worth it if you want your restaurant to grow.
About the Author: Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur, HuffingtonPost and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.